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News & Press

Nov 11, 2019

From Cornerback to Cabernet: Ex-NFL Star Charles Woodson on his New Wine Venture

Often con­sid­ered to be one of the great­est defen­sive play­ers in the his­to­ry of Amer­i­can foot­ball, for­mer cor­ner­back and safe­ty Charles Wood­son spends more time these days think­ing about Cabs and cuvées than pick­ing off quar­ter­backs and thwart­ing touch­downs. Almost two decades after launch­ing his epony­mous, pre­mi­um Napa Val­ley brand, Wood­son is releas­ing a more afford­able line from California’s Cen­tral Coast. Called Charles Woodson’s Inter­cept, the wine is being pro­duced in part­ner­ship with O’Neill Vint­ners & Dis­tillers. The brand’s aim is to score with an even greater seg­ment of Woodson’s fan base, which extends from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan, where he was the only defen­sive play­er to ever win the Heis­man Tro­phy, to his pro­fes­sion­al days with the Oak­land Raiders and Green Bay Packers.

What start­ed your inter­est in wine?

Grow­ing up in the Mid­west, I didn’t know any­thing about wine. I was worlds away from wine coun­try. I didn’t get intro­duced to wine until I got to the Oak­land Raiders in 1998. The Raiders’ train­ing camp was in the Napa Val­ley. It was pret­ty eye-open­ing for me to see this beau­ti­ful part of the coun­try that I had nev­er heard of and [to be] around peo­ple who drink wine for lunch and for dinner.

What were some of your ear­ly experiences?

I just remem­ber the first time when I tried Mer­lot. I don’t know who made it, but that was all I would drink was Mer­lot. Robert Mon­davi was the first win­ery that I had ever gone to. I was very impressed. Then I final­ly tried Caber­net. I was hooked.

Why start Intercept?

My Napa wine is con­sid­ered high-end, retail­ing for $85 a bot­tle. I just ran into a lot of fans who don’t mind spend­ing $85 occa­sion­al­ly, but they don’t want to spend $85 every time they’re try­ing to drink a lit­tle bit of wine. So it was impor­tant to have some­thing that peo­ple felt good about pur­chas­ing on a dai­ly basis.

How’d you pick the name?

Inter­cept is some­thing that’s quick­ly asso­ci­at­ed with [me]. If you’re a fan of foot­ball, that’s some­thing I was pret­ty good at through­out my career.

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